Elon said the tooling has already been ordered. So they do not even have the tooling on site yet. The factory is almost complete for BFR production , given this we may see the first demo flight of the BFR sooner that most anticipate, I do not believe Elon would send the first ever two BFR to Mars . so this puts things at the 2024 to 2026 time frame.
Being conservative ten years before regularly scheduled BFR launches
but I will happily be proven wrong if he can get this horse running sooner. But his time is split and right now he is in chile negotiating for mineral rights and possibly a new gigafactory.
Nasa Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) is a critical flight test and will not even fly until 2020 at the earliest. This is one of the markets BFR is shooting for.
SpaceX stated that BFR production would start in 6 months. So it is reasonable to assume that the first BFS will do suborbital test flights some time around the second quarter of 2019 with the booster following around the second quarter of 2020 and the whole stack around the end of 2020. That is my estimate anyway. SpaceX needs the BFR to launch their internet constellation. Launching thousands of satellites with FH and F9 does not seem practical.
ladajo wrote:Meanwhile, the real question is when will Zuma launch... ?
SpaceX seems to think the launch will be tomorrow (7th) in the evening.
The reflowns were only designed for a 2x or 3x flight profile. Thus, essentially, his original reflowns are now 'expended(ish)'.
They can launch more often, but need more refurbishment time to do so. The coming block 5 F9 will be able to launch 10 times, with only a day (or so) of refurbishment in between launches, mostly inspections only. This is why SpaceX is trying to get rid of the current set of cores. It makes no sense to keep flying the older models. The refurbishment cost is so much higher than with block 5. Plus, they have collected a pretty big stack of cores now (more than they can store at the moment). So they are trying to get rid of them. Some of them are going straight to scrap now, because they don't know what to do with them.
Given that he is now (Zuma) looking to effect a planned fairing recovery, and the bulk of Falcon Heavy will be recoverable, we should start seeing some big shifts in his cost model for the better. And that can make him money to help offset BFR development and build for the next few years.
I think that SpaceX will try to recover their investment into reusability first. They also need the money to develop BFR, which will cost about a billion or so. So prices might not drop that much quite yet ( I expect about 25% discount for "flight proven" cores with F9 block 5). Things will change massively when BFR comes online, though.
Once he establishes a heavy lift to LEO and beyond, I foresee cargoes that were/are only fantasy now becoming reality in the next 2 to 3 years. Like for example, a Lagrange Station, and permanent moon facilities within the decade, with the precursor or establishing lifts done with Falcon Heavy. We are on the precipice of the next age methinks.
I am really looking forward to a future that is going to be similar to what we see in "The Expanse". With a little bit of luck, we might live to see at least the beginning of that.
I really wished that Musk would consider throwing some money at the guys at MSNW and/or PPPL for their fusion space drives.